Back in early June, Pulmonary Hypertension News profiled PH advocates Team Phenomenal Hope and their compelling bicycle trek through twelve states, 3,000 miles, and 170,000 vertical feet of elevation, in order to raise money and awareness for the disease. The race, which began on June, 14th in Oceanside, California, concluded in Annapolis, Maryland, with UPMC pulmonologist Dr. Patty George and fellow teammates Anne-Marie, Stacie, and Ryanne crossing the finish line on Saturday, June 21. The nationwide bike marathon — which took 7 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes — finished almost two days ahead of the project’s initial 9-day plan.
It seems that the extra days gained in the team’s steadfast effort to advocate for PH will serve them well in giving ample time to talk about the need for more research, drug development, and funding for the disease, as Team PHenomenal Hope will appear on ABC’s “Nightline” to tell their story of hope and determination.
According to a recent blog post on the group’s website, the team and its supporting crew, which was composed of members of the science community, endurance bicycling pros, and PH sufferers alike, battled grueling elements and perpetual motion to complete the challenge: “The women of Team PH battled ferocious desert heat, 50+ mph winds across the flatlands, torrential rains, sleep deprivation, cramped quarters, tired and aching bodies, and more than a week away from family, jobs, and the comforts of home,” said crew member Greta in her blog post. The struggle, however, is what put a point on the event for both the team and those following the trek: “But the sacrifices made by the racers and their dedicated crew were completely and totally justified when the team crossed that long-awaited finish line into the waiting arms of family, friends, and countless numbers of PHA community members in Maryland, at Conference, and watching from home.”
Even more impressive, the team’s effort was not of their own design. Their trek was part of the “Race Across America,” which is billed as the most grueling cross-country bicycle race in America, which dates back to 1982. Using the high profile race as a platform for their cause, Team PHenomenal Hope held their own among more experienced competitors, showing that their passion for finding a cure to pulmonary hypertension could prove to be an equalizer. They placed second among four-woman teams, coming in behind just one other team. “The German frauleins beat us by about 2½ hours,” Dr. George said, as quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It was pretty close. Not bad for four rookies.”
Visit teamphenomenalhope.org for more information about the group’s mission.